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9 classic LGBTQ TV shows to watch during #Queerantine

Catch up on the queer series that left their mark on the TV landscape.

By Thomas Stichbury

Have you been spending so much quality time with your couch during #Queerantine that it’s just become a giant indent of your body-ody-ody? Good! Settle back into that groove for a queer education through the magical medium of television.

There is no longer any excuse – we don’t care if you’re making banana bread! – for not catching up on the LGBTQ TV shows that pushed the boundaries, shifted the conversation around representation and finally allowed us to see ourselves on the small screen.

Ever so helpfully, we’ve compiled a list of the nine series you must ravenously binge at once, from stone-cold classics from yesteryear, to more recent rainbow-coloured gems.

Please note that there are a few glaring omissions, like Marissa Cooper’s biref flirtation with lesbianism in The OC – iconic.

Queer as Folk (1999-2000)

Well, duh. Russell T Davies’ fearless gay drama broke down barriers when it aired on Channel 4 in 1999, chronicling the escapades of Stuart, Vince and 15-year-old Nathan (Charlie Hunnam) in Manchester.

How many of you watched it in secret, with the volume turned down low? It also taught many of us what rimming is, which really did set tongues wagging…

Watch now on All4

Will & Grace (1998-2006; 2017-2020)

A smash-hit sitcom about a gay lawyer living with his straight interior designer BFF – this was pretty milestone stuff for mainstream US TV back in 1998.

The feel-good fave also gave us the filthy rich and, well, plain filthy socialite Karen (played with potty-mouthed pizzazz by Megan Mullally.) Bet she’d love the fact that her name has since become a slur.

Watch now on Hulu

The L Word (2004-2009)

Starring Jennifer Beals – of Flashdance fame – The L Word blazed televisual trails as it lifted the lid on the lives of a close-knit group of lesbian women in Los Angeles, running for six seasons between 2004 and 2009.

Showtime’s sequel offering The L Word: Generation Q saw Beals reprise her role as Bette last year. What a feeling that must have been…

Watch now on Amazon Prime

Tales of the City (1993)

Author Armistead Maupin’s collection of San Fran-based stories were first brought to the screen in a miniseries in 1993, shining a light on a kaleidoscope of LGBTQ characters, including Olympia Dukakis’ stoner transgender landlady.

Netflix reopened the door to the fictional 28 Barbary Lane in a recent reboot starring Murray Bartlett (*drool*).

Watch now on All4

Please Like Me (2013-2016)

Please. Watch. This. Created by and starring Josh Thomas, this Aussie coming-of-age comedy drama centres on a twentysomething named, well, Josh, who realises he is gay after being dumped by his girlfriend.

The series – which also stars Hannah Gatsby – will make you laugh hard and, by the end of its fourth and final season, cry even harder. It features a cracking cover of Sia’s Chandelier, too.

Watch now on Amazon Prime & Hulu

Looking (2014-15)

Billed as “Sex & The City for the gays”, the HBO offering proved to be a more contemplative creature as it charted the ups and downs of video game designer Patrick (Jonathan Groff), artist Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez), and the peri-peri-chicken-OBSESSED Dom (oh hey, Murray Bartlett).

We’re thankful to the show for introducing us to Raul Castillo, as Pat’s love interest, barber Richie. One word: swoon.

Watch now on Sky

Cucumber/Banana/Tofu (2015)

Hello again, Russell T Davies. Buoyed by a young cast, including Fisayo Akinade, Banana took an, ahem, a-peel-ing look at 21st-century LGBTQ life across eight stand-alone stories.

The anthology was part of Davies’ triumvirate of queer programming – alongside Cucumber and Tofu – each titled after sexology terms used to describe strengths of erections. We haven’t gone soft on either show.

Watch now on All4

Transparent (2014-2019)

Messy. Magical. Mesmerising. Creator Jill Solloway delivered something special with this dream-like drama following the deeply dysfunctional Pfefferman family, led by Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), who came out as transgender late in life.

The series was rocked by sexual harassment claims against Tambor, but Solloway – who identifies as trans and non-binary – made sure her TV baby finished on a high note with a Tambor-less musical episode that was, yup, messy, magical and mesmerising.

Watch now on Amazon Prime

Pose (2018-)

Category is: classic TV show in the making. Strutting into the drag ballroom scene of 80s/90s New York, Ryan Murphy’s saga sashays from the soapy to the sobering, but ultimately is a heart-leaping celebration of chosen families.

Tens, tens, tens, tens across the board – extra points have been given for Dominique Jackson’s Elektra Abundance, who has the same fabulous snarky delivery whether she’s reading a bitch or ordering a coffee.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

For more tips on what to watch and listen to during lockdown, click here.